Mariscal Cáceres, Peru - Polarsteps
Juanjuí, Peru: population: 30,000, or about 35,000 for the entire metropolitan area. Juanjuí sits in a mountain valley at 283 meters (928 feet). It's a very pretty valley and quite close to the Amazon region. Juanjuí is the gateway into one of the national park Rio Abiseo and the ruins Gran Pajaté.
The history of the region dates back to the Inca years, but it was in 1827 that the Spanish conquered the area and founded the town. The name Juanjuí is a contraction of the name Juan Huido. The Spanish founded the town with this name: Villa de Santa María de la Merced de Juanjuí, Sworn Protector of the Captives. The growth of the town didn't really take off until the highway was built in 1956, prior to which the airport was the only way to reach the town.
In 1972, there was an earthquake that caused damage to 80% of the homes in Juanjuí. In 2011 Juanjuí received national and international awards for its production and export of organic cocoa (from which we get chocolate, not that white powdery stuff). The economy of Juanjuí comes mostly from commercial trades/businesses, followed by agriculture: cocoa (the production of which is considered some of the best in the world), oranges, papayas, cotton, cassava, bananas, lemons, etc. Tourism is not a big part of the picture here but the city is in the construction mode of a new malecon, a riverside walkway that will extend the length of the city along the river.
So, my impressions: Throughout my few days here I have been flagging between yes or no in regards to putting Juanjuí on my top 10 list. Now, at the end of my stay, I think I will put it in the 10th position. I like the town, I like the valley it sits in, and I like the climate. The one part that doesn't let me be completely sold on it is this: no real supermarket. there are a couple of large miscellaneous stores that also have grocery sections, a decent small grocery store, and many tiendas, of course. There are also markets where you can get just about any you need. The town does have several different ATMs that do accept my debit card, so that is a plus. They are also building a new park that will have many permanent booths for vendors of artisanal goods and cultural displays. Part of the park is completed, another part is in construction, and the last part is currently used for soccer, volleyball, and picnicking. There are two nice plazas, as well. Everybody I met while visiting stores or just out walking was friendly and open to talking with me even with my not-so-great command of Spanish which I learned in Colombia. I mention that because each country has a slightly different version of Spanish, even some differences in vocabulary (the same as with English in the various English-speaking countries). It's been interesting, so far, and I'm sure it will be more so when I get into the next countries.
My South America Journey